Whether you’re young or old, everyone familiar with the original Nintendo’s library of games certainly knows they require a considerable reserve of patience, focus, and endurance to complete. The videos included in this list strive to show you the content of each game, but also how inferior we all are to the gaming monsters that can speed run and complete these gaming endeavors without dying or even taking a hit, just to make us all feel even worse about the prospect of actually beating these punishing classics.
1. Super Contra
Super Contra, like most shoot-em ups, requires you to not only blast enemies at a constant, but the game will be trying to catch you off guard at the least convenient moment. When either trying to maneuver to a better position or deal with a current threat, enemies throw themselves at you with suicidal fervor. The varied platforming and change up in camera view depending on the stage will also keep you on edge, not allowing you to get too comfortable with a particular perspective or flow of play.
Though the original Contra is tough in its own right, “Super C,” as its officially titled for the NES, takes all the elements from the first game and turns it up a notch. But not to worry, you’ll still be grinding it out with imitation Arnold and Stallone, “Bill” and “Lance,” to take on what are definitely not Alien ripoffs in the later stages…
Beating the game is certainly not impossible, but the above video will certainly help crush any notion you may have had about your past or future Contra greatness. To beat the game in such style as to not only avoid death but also not indulge in the use of any power-ups is truly impressive. And though tempting, don’t think about that Konami code for an extra thirty lives if you want anyone’s respect for beating it.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
If the half-baked idea of turtles who mutate into teenage humanoid pizza loving martial artist beach bros wasn’t enough to take in already, the decidedly random and surprisingly difficult original NES game will challenge you more than you’d think. From sewer bats, fire beings, and robot kangaroos, to the Power Ranger-like villain Shredder and the wise anthropomorphic master rat Splinter, you’ll navigate a colorful world of pain.
Everything in the game, like its overall concept, seems kind of random, weird, and unusual. However, there’s a certain charm to it all that draws you in regardless of how brutally difficult the game can be. You would think such an outlandish game world would provide a casual and lighthearted style of gameplay, but you’d be wrong. This lesson is especially illuminated when playing the water level in which you’ll have to disarm bombs under a dam in the Hudson River. Not only are the traps and dangers of the level hard to avoid but you’re also pressured by a short time limit, making the experience quite nerve racking.
The cool mechanic of being able to switch between the different turtles would seem useful but since most situations call for Donatello’s long range via his bo staff, you’ll seldom use anyone else. But unlike most players who die and give up within the first level or two, the video above is a monument to human perseverance, as the player beats the whole game without dying, shaming us all.
3. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
What’s harder than beating an all time classic boxing game that requires practice, memorization, and calm focus? Beating Punch-Out!! blindfolded is what. In the video above, “sinister1″ eventually succumbs to the raw power of big Mike himself, but the fact that he’s able to get all the way to Tyson blindfolded is simply incredible. Chalk it up to patterns and combos, but regardless, timing both attacks and dodges by only listening and paying attention to the game’s rhythm is amazing to watch.
The comical characters like Bald Bull and Soda Popinski are seemingly goofy but they’ll surely knock your block off if you’re not paying attention. Punch-Out is a game that’s extremely satisfying to play though, as each successful strike and knockdown rewards you with beautifully animated expressions that give the characters a full sense of life and personality in an otherwise mostly dialogue free adventure.
If you’re not skilled enough to beat the first few boxers, at least you’ll be treated to the iconic training scene that rivals Rocky. However, you’ll have to decide for yourself what’s more embarrassing, having a pink sweatsuit or being barked at by your heavyset trainer as he bikes in front of you, surely giving you a lovely view of his sweaty behind.
Want something just like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but even more difficult? Then Battletoads is your game. Professor T. Bird and two of his Battletoads, Rash and Zits, seek to rescue the third Battletoad, Pimple, and the princess from the Dark Queen. Pretty straightforward, but if you’re actually dedicated enough to reach the end of the game, you’ll travel to a variety of locations via your spacecraft, which looks quite a lot like the Klingon “Bird of Prey” ships from the Star Trek universe.
The first level seems innocent enough, tasking you with only beating up a few enemies at a time as the catchy tunes beep and bop. The gameplay is comically satisfying much like Punch Out or Super Dodge Ball, in that many kills end with a giant ram-head, fist, or foot for the final blow, sending characters flying off screen. The crunchy sound effects really help the ridiculous finishes feel impactful.
Most people are probably unfamiliar with most of the game past the first race in the tunnel due to it’s insanely tight difficulty, where one false move can spell disaster. Whether you have a Game Genie or just the skills and time to eventually beat that race, you’ll be further treated to more races as well as some challenging puzzle and platform sections as well. So if you wanted this game to be just a tough brawler, unfortunately it spans a few genres of game types in which you’ll be tested in more ways than one. However, its all just a matter of your will to push through the hard parts to discover it all.
5. Mega Man
As always, the year is 20XX in the Mega Man universe, and you’re the robot boy who’s going to end up saving the world from Dr. Wily and his legion of robots again, and again, and again. You have to love the simplicity of Mega Man’s robotic enemies, like Cut Man, who’s head is adorned with a pair of shears, or the adorable Ice Man and his cute little baby blue coat.
The ability to attain the powers of defeated bosses in the game and switching between them during missions at will, provides a greater sense of depth to what would just be another challenging shooter platformer. As the no death run in the video above proves, knowing the weakness of each boss based on their powers is extremely useful as you can end a battle nearly before it begins.
Despite a whole legacy of games in the franchise, the original Mega Man still ranks high on lists for the more difficult games in the series. Having to consistently change powers to solve platform obstacles as well as timing jumps to avoid projectiles, makes the game walk, quite literally, a very fine line between life and death. If you do die, which you will, there’s no greater sight or stronger a respite from your woes, than seeing a beautiful blue Mega Man head that’s in reach, supplying you with another precious life.
As a side note, you can check out how the cover art for the many games in the Mega Man franchise went through a strange back and forth approach, either having a grotesque, man-like Mega Man or a cartoonish boy Mega Man.
6. Bionic Commando
Originally titled Top Secret: Hitler’s Revival when released in Japan, the game was later converted into the Bionic Commando we know from the English release. Despite the seemingly endless amount of World War II-themed films and video games that have been released over the years, during the NES age, many games were heavily censored to avoid any chance of controversy. Thus the majority of content aiming to create a Nazi theme was either removed or downplayed. Curiously though, the encounter with a revived Hitler at the end of the game was kept in, only renaming him “Master-D,” which seems not only uninspired but downright random.
Along with the strange treatment of Hitler, the game’s main villain “Weizmann” was changed to “Killt.” The only change that seemed to transition well was switching the swastikas to eagles, which ironically only reinforces the Nazi theme, as eagles were a recognizable symbol in Nazism. Even the general name of the enemies was changed from Nazis to the “Badds,” and again, it’s not quite as intimidating as the original content.
Regardless, Bionic Commando provides unique gameplay via the grappling hook and the ability to select levels, acquiring various gadgets, gear, and weaponry as you progress. However, even with all the gear and ability to approach the game in a non-linear fashion, the constant threat of enemies and the pitfalls of platforming without an ability to jump make Bionic Commando a challenging adventure.